Orion critic high on ‘Cocaine Bear’

A film sparking debate and generating buzz since its release.


“Cocaine bear” making a jump of faith feening for more fuel. Photo courtesy of Universal.

With less than a week since its release date on Feb. 28 and $32.5 million at the box office, “Cocaine Bear” is a must-see movie for those looking for a fun time. Directed by Elizabeth Banks and inspired by a true story, this horror-comedy film depicts the discovery of a large amount of drugs by a bear in the 1980s, that were dropped from a drug smuggler’s plane.

Cocaine Bear receiving a pick-me-up after a quick nap. Photo courtesy of Universal.

The bear eats packages of cocaine and emerges high with renewed strength. The bear transforms into a mix of Tony Montana, the main character in the film “Scarface” and Jason Voorhees from “Friday the 13th”.

The film has the feel of an inside joke and consistently invites you to laugh at it. Some critics have praised its dark humor and uniqueness, while others have criticized it for being a little bit too goofy and not taking the story seriously enough. It depicts dark consequences that can result from a single moment of reckless behavior.

Charles Pulliam-Moore film and TV reporter from The Verge wrote, “it’s fun, but it doesn’t know when to stop.” 

Variety’s film critic Owen Gleiberman said: “You must go on opening weekend! And submit to the madness! I can’t get enough of this motherfuckin’ cocaine in this motherfuckin’ bear!”

“Cocaine Bear” generates buzz for its bizarre and intriguing storyline. Screenwriter Jimmy Warden included many waves throughout the film, most in which the audience laughs at the bear’s violently playful interactions.

There are thrilling plot twists that makes the audience dislike the bear and others that inspire love and empathy with the creature. The film illustrates the effect of the drug trade on animals. Undeniably, “Cocaine Bear” is a thought-provoking and daring exploration of nature. The song “JUST CAN’T GET ENOUGH” by Depeche Mode used in the film describes the bear’s addictive attitude toward wanting more and more, and parallels the greed of the drug lords.

Film poster of “Cocaine bear.” Photo courtesy of Universal.

Banks manages to balance the film’s comedic moments with its more serious themes, creating a cohesive and engaging viewing experience. The explosive performances of Keri Russell, portrayed Colette, a nurse and single mother. Ray Liotta plays Syd, a drug dealer who looks for all the lost cocaine, and Alden Ehrenreich plays Eddie, Syd’s son who’s also looking for all the lost shipment.

All actors add realism to the plot, making it come to life. They all play the circumstances extremely well by making the audience feel like they are also being chased by a giant bear. They effortlessly move between comedic and dramatic parts with ease.

In an interview with The Daily Beast Kelli Russell said, “Well, obviously, I’m always gunning for Oscar nominations, which is why I chose an award-worthy project like ‘Cocaine Bear.’ Liotta died May 26, 2022 at 67-years-old and did not get to watch the final product. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight Banks said, “He never saw the final movie, but he did see all of his scenes.”

Ray Liotta wearing a blue shirt and leather jacket at the right. Photo courtesy of Universal.

Overall, “Cocaine Bear” is an unconventional movie that leaves a lasting impression on viewers. Its unique premise and thoughtful exploration of addiction and consequences make it a film worth watching, even for those who may not immediately be drawn to its peculiar storyline. 

Today, the real life taxidermy bear sits as an exhibit at the Kentucky fun mall. Before that it was kept inside country star Waylon Jennings’ home until his passing in 2002.

Exhibit of the real ‘Cocaine bear’. Photo courtesy of Kentucky fun mall.

While it may not be for everyone, it’s certainly a memorable and entertaining experience for those willing to take a walk on the wild side.